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Review of Apologia's Marine Biology

Apologia Educational Ministries


I have written about and reviewed Apologia Educational Ministries so many times that I might worry that you would get tired of hearing about them except for one thing: they are so awesome and they so consistently turn out an awesome product that that would be impossible. This time we are talking about a new-to-me product: Marine Biology 2nd Edition Advantage Set. We also received the Marine Biology 2nd Edition Audio CD, read by Marissa Leinart. 

The 2nd Edition Advantage Set contains everything you could possibly need to complete Marine Biology, which is a high school course that Apologia recommends studying after you complete high school Biology. First up is the 557 page, full-color hardcover textbook, glossary, appendices, and index inclusive. There are 16 modules in this book (course): The Oceans of Our Planet, Life in the Sea, The First Four Kingdoms, Marine Invertebrates I, Marine Invertebrates II, Marine Vertebrates I, Marine Vertebrates II, Marine Ecology, The Intertidal Zone, Estuary Communities, Coral Reefs, Continental Shelf Communities, The Epipelagic Zone, The Deep Ocean, Ocean Resources, and Effects of Humans on the Sea.

Like all Apologia science books, this one is interesting, engaging, and written from a Christian worldview, but y'all! If you have not checked out the 2nd edition Apologia science books, please do yourself a favor and look at them! If, like mine, your children were intimidated by the sheer density of information in the 1st edition high school Apologia books, you owe it to yourself and your children to give the new generation a try. They are gorgeous. They are friendly. They don't intimidate. And they still retain everything that makes them worthy of the Apologia name - the worldview, the rigor, and the organization.


It doesn't look like a high school science textbook, does it? I promise, though, it's rigorous enough! Two features I absolutely love are the answers to the "On Your Own" Questions and the study guides at the end of each module. They make this textbook so user-friendly! I realize I have said that already in this review, but when your kids aren't either a) textbook lovers and/or b) science lovers, that's just such a huge plus! 

Marine Biology 2nd Edition Advantage Set
In addition to the textbook, the advantage set also comes with the Student Notebook. Now, there is so much awesomeness to the Student Notebook that it's hard to imagine not having it. Is it a necessity? No. Is there something in it for everyone? Absolutely yes. My favorite part of the whole notebook is the grading rubric. As a homeschool parent, grading is one thing that I find very hard to do, especially with Nicholas (14) and Therese (16). With Nicholas, it's because I'm always tempted to give him the benefit of the doubt, and with Therese, it's because I tend to think her work is just about perfect. When guidelines are laid out hard and fast for me, that's a good thing. And this is a great rubric (I'm not including a picture for obvious reasons!). Apologia tells you exactly how to grade each module, complete with a beautiful grid. There is no ambiguity. I love it. 
Then there is a section that teaches students how to take notes from a science text, which is a nice little bonus. Some students (Therese) are born note takers. Others (Nicholas) need to be taught. The daily schedule is a huge help. I used to not need one of these, but when the kids hit high school, all of a sudden, I found schedules indispensable. Again, there is full-color loveliness:
Then, for each module of the Student Notebook, there are pages to take notes on the chapter, followed by a listing of the "On Your Own Questions" from the chapter with room to answer them, the Study Guide questions with room to answer, and an Optional Summary of the module with fill-in-the-blanks.
The Lab Notebook is at the back of the Student Notebook and contains all of the experiments in the textbook, a minimum of one for each module. This Lab Notebook is the other reason that I consider the Student Notebook a huge, huge bonus if you're taking Marine Biology. It makes the experiments so easy. I remember dreading labs, primarily because the lab write-ups were so darn onerous. You had to do so much before the lab, and then a lot of it wasn't in the right place for what you had to write during the lab, and then you had to rewrite the whole mess after the lab. All of that is history with Apologia's Lab Notebook. The procedure is all written out for you -- heck, it's all written out for you. The part of me that is like Abe Lincoln wants to say, "In my day, we had to write a fifty-page lab report and copy it in triplicate. What was good enough for me is good enough for you!" but the mom in me just wants my kids to enjoy science experiments while still getting a taste of the scientific method. The mom in me is ecstatic about the Lab Notebook.
Marine Biology 2nd Edition Advantage Set
The final component of the Advantage Set is the Solutions and Tests Manual, plus Tests. The Tests booklet is 50 pages long and is consumable. It includes a test for each module, plus quarterly tests. The Solutions and Tests Manual has information about scheduling and grading, along with the answers to the Study Guides and Summaries for each module. It also has the module tests and the test answers. In my opinion, it is not optional for this course. Unlike the other components of the course, these items are black and white (and should be, since tests shouldn't come with distractions).
The MP3 audio CD is not part of the Advantage Set, but it can be purchased for $29. I was very curious about this CD, so I didn't waste any time hooking up my external CD player to my laptop to download it to my computer. Wow. The CD is awesome. Yes, it is perfect if you're child is an auditory learner. It's a must if you're child has a learning issue related to reading. But I think it's a huge asset regardless. Marissa Leinart who narrates the CD does a great job capturing the casual style that Sherri Seligson does so well in the Marine Biology text. If some narrators are more Librivox and some narrators are more Audible, Mrs. Leinart is Audible all the way - she's a pure professional. She narrates every part of the book (as far as I could tell), verbatim, including the non-texty parts, if that makes sense. So, the "Notes to the Student" - she reads those. This is the unabridged version. I am so impressed with the quality of the CD. Like everything else Apologia does, there were no corners cut here. Remember, Audible, not Librivox.
Marine Biology 2nd Ed Audio CD
Therese (16) and Marine Biology
I actually had a very hard time deciding which of my children would do Marine Biology. I considered Nicholas (14), but he is doing Chemistry right now and he's loving it, so I left well enough alone. My twins actually begged to do this course once they saw the beautiful book. They did a middle school marine science course last year and loved it, and this seemed like a good next step to them, but I told them it was for high school (honestly, though, I am seriously considering just adapting it to their level. It's an awesome course, and I know they would LOVE it; I love that with the addition of the CD, it can still be a read aloud, and I don't have to be there to do the reading aloud). For this review, though, I wanted to use it with the intended audience - a high school student who has completed biology. 
Because she is also doing another science course, and because of Hurricane Harvey, Therese has gotten through the first two modules of Marine Biology. Her verdict - she likes it! She enjoys the full-color textbook, and she loves the ease of the Student Notebook. Because of the way she takes notes, she doesn't use that portion of the Notebook, but she definitely enjoys not having either to write out the questions and answers of the "On Your Own" section and Study Guide, or to use complete sentences when answering them, as seen in the sometimes one or two word answers below!

Of the something like five experiments that have come up so far, all have used regular household items (there were a couple that I said she could skip - as I said she is doing double science right now). Next module calls for prepared slides, but because she has already done biology, we have those on hand already! I am sure there are dissections in our future; I should probably look ahead a few more modules...

As I said at the outset, and as I have said many times, Apologia just can't do a bad product. I am always ridiculously excited when I see that we get to review them. Marine Biology is such an exciting course for them to have in the lineup, especially with its emphasis on ecology and stewardship (that resonates particularly with many Catholics, especially with the papacy of our current pontiff). To see what 54 other Review Crew members thought of this science course, be sure to click the banner below!
Marine Biology 2nd Edition Advantage Set {Apologia Educational Ministries Review}
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